Calendaring, reminders, and nagging learners in just the right way

I am interested in co-working, and whether it might help learners complete courses more effectively. Co-working is a schedule “work date” with one or more other people, with the idea that you’re socially accountable to the others to show up and get things done.

There are multiple services available to help you set up co-working meetings. I’m particularly interested in and FocusMate.

There’s an accessibility angle on this notion, in that I think people with ADD may benefit from additional structure in shepherding them through a course or program, but really I think it may be beneficial to every learner.

My architecture questions are:

  1. Is there a calendaring API on Open edX? (ability to add, modify, remove events from the Dates tab in the LMS). I have the impression that this answer is no. Secondary question is, do you know of any outside/adjacent services that might make use of such an API, or have made their own already?
  2. Is there a notifications API on Open edX? (ability to send notifications or questions via different channels such as email, mobile notifications, web notifications.) The need for an API also brings up security and branding issues if a plugin is sending a message as edX, or as the Partner institution.
  3. I assume it would be good long-term to have a Notification User Preferences panel where learners could choose what types of things they want to be nagged about, what their preferred vector(s) are, and what level of redundancy or persistence they want. From the a11y perspective, being able to throttle and shape messaging is particularly important; too few reminders may be as much of a problem as too many. Anyway the question here is, do you have any other thoughts on what might need user settings in helping learners progress by controlling course-level event reminders.

This topic brings up multiple possibilities for research. For most of them, the key dependent variables are completion rate (did they finish the course) and repeat rate (did they come back for more later). I’m also interested in what differences there may be across people in terms of ideal activation threshold. Is it OK to provide a way for learners to schedule co-working sessions? Would it be better for instructors to set up the sessions and just encourage participation? How much does having a steady co-working cohort matter?

When someone with ADD asks, “is online learning going to work for me” I’d like to be able to say “we got you” and “you control the experience, so you can figure out what works best for your motivational style” and “if you just show up to the scheduled meetings, there’s a very good chance you’ll finish.”

Is anyone in the community already working on this?


Hi @Jeff_Witt!

These are quite interesting features to add to the product.
In particular, we have a client asking to integrate Open edX to Egg Education, which seems to be similar to or FocusMate. We’ve not started yet with this integration. Do you have an idea how can this be accomplished?